Tag Archives: wedding


I don’t want to sound obnoxious, but I’m having lunch with my sister-in-law on Friday.
What? Not obnoxious yet? How about this: I live in the US, she lives in Ireland, and we’re having lunch in a little town on the banks of Lake Trasimeno in central Italy.

A little obnoxious, am I right? Sorry.

This trip is basically the antithesis of the one I took to Dublin in June. That was unexpected, last-minute, stressful, filled with tricky decisions and hard work. This one has been long planned and long looked forward to. It will involve a certain amount of being-a-grownup – driving from Bologna to Perugia on my own, for instance (and back), but also the fun parts of being a grown up – staying up late, dancing, drinking wine, meeting old friends in new places. (Lunch with my SIL is actually a bonus. I’m really going for my oldest and bestest friend’s wedding.)

Yes, I am hella lucky that I can flit over to Europe twice in one summer. Though long flights and long airport layovers are not entirely my idea of fun, they are much easier (though perhaps more boring) without children who need to be fed and entertained. I get back on Monday, so I’ll probably spend longer in transit than the two days the wedding will take up, but them’s the breaks. I’ll muddle through.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I have a nice new phone and will be Instagramming my trip, so if you haven’t followed me over there, now might be a good time. Pictures of Frankfurt airport and scenic Tuscany/Umbria, plus lots of delicious food, to come. I’m @AwfullyChipper over there, same as on Twitter. (Hint hint.)

I’m leaving the kids in the capable hands of their father (and vice versa), and have stocked up on everything they might possibly run out of – pasta, sandwich bread, peanut butter, cat food, cat litter, goldfish crackers, ice pops… I’m sure they’ll be fine. I’ll miss them terribly.

Helper cat



We were at a wedding last night, and, as I somewhat effusively told the happy couple, it brought out all the feels.

It was really a milestone event, because it’s the first wedding we’ve been to where we’re “of the older generation.” As B is the baby of his family, he and I are the youngest of our rung on the ladder, and the nephew getting married is the oldest of my kids’ cousins, so the gap in years might not be a whole generation’s worth, but symbolically it remains true.

It was also my first non-church wedding. It took place in a hotel, just like in the movies. At first I thought it might be a little soulless (I’m such a hypocrite, an atheist who says it’s not a real wedding if it’s not in a church), but I cried just as much as I ever would at the lovely self-written  vows, and as a parent of two squirmy, unreliable children, I very much appreciated the tidy length of the ceremony. And it was nice not to have to worry about transporting ourselves from the ceremony to the reception, as all we had to do was step into the elevator and out again a floor above.

Also, there were babysitters laid on, so that we were able to send our children away to play raucous games of musical chairs and do crafts while we were civilized and ate our dinners and drank all the fizzy wine and danced to the Sinatra songs they played not intending people to dance to them. Our offspring did come back to us after a little while, but we enticed them onto the dance floor and ended the night with all four of us tearing it up to Uptown Funk at 11:30pm. That was a good moment.

These moments of ritual, though. Those were what got me thinking. The bride had a little trouble getting the groom’s ring over his knuckle; I remember exactly the same struggle and the same nervous giggle welling up when it happened to me. The groom is a marathon runner, like his uncle. She and he are two strong, determined, uber-smart people who will go far and do amazing things together.

A wedding date is really an arbitrary day to start counting from when you’ve been living together for a few years already; and yet, it’s important. This is why.

It’s important though, to mark this, to stand up, to have the planning and the party and the ceremony and the drama that goes with it all, because in some ways it’s one of your first challenges. It’s a time you’ll go through, and then you’ll look back and remember it at every other wedding you go to: we did this too, you’ll say, or we didn’t do that. And you’ll think about all you’ve done since, the twists and turns your lives have taken together, the glue that holds you together, the ritual and the symbolism and the flowers and the dances and the meals and the friends and the family.

And most of all it marks the point where you started out together to be a new family of your own, breaking free from everything you wanted to let go of, no longer forced into your role as son, daughter, sister, brother; the over-achiever, the stubborn middle, the baby of the family.

You get to go out there and be yourself, with your teammate, grownups together, to dance your dance to your own soundtrack whatever way you want to do it.

B and children dancing, blurry

On the dance floor


The shipment. Ah, the shipment.

The stuff can be divided more or less as follows:

  • wedding presents that we asked for
  • wedding presents that we didn’t want
  • toys from the past two Christmases
  • almost-useless electronic items
  • yard-sale fodder
  • pure trash
  • small-to-large bowls/vases/jugs

I feel like I’m being haunted by the ghost of my twenty-something self. I never realised she had such crappy taste.

In my twenties, I was living the swinging (not literally), single (sometimes) life of a college graduate with a cushy job in booming software and a flat in the inner suburbs of Dublin. I liked stuff; in fact, I desperately wanted to own stuff, because once I moved out of my parents’ house, and after my first flatmate had moved on and taken all his nice stuff with him, it became painfully obvious that I didn’t have any. I could fill the shelves of my bedroom with books and clutter up the top of my chest of drawers with bottles of unguents and mugs filled artistically with makeup brushes, but once you stepped into the kitchen/sitting/dining room, the grubby white walls and landlord’s furniture were unassailed by anything at all.

Unfortunately, priorities for my disposible income, such as it was, were clothes, shoes, and going out. I had no inclination to spend my hard(ish)-earned dosh on furnishings, pictures, objects d’art, and so on; so I relied on picking up the odd item here and there in the cheapest of shops and getting interesting birthday presents from people whose taste may or may not have coincided with mine. I seem to have amassed a lot of small bowls, quite a few jugs, and more yellow vases than you would think someone who has no inclination towards gardening might ever need. Also a horrible number of cheap and nasty whatsits, thingies, and tchotchkes. And some framed postcards.

So we have plenty of bowls now. Come over and sample a selection of chips and dips, won’t you?

In the event, the unwanted toys took up very little of the useless-crap space in the shipment. Mabel is delighted with her new baby, has been playing with the Little People farm and the Sticklebricks, and the few books have been perused. Much more useless, heavy, and space-taking-up was the entire mid-size stereo, complete with two speakers, that inadvertently came across the Atlantic to us.

No, this wasn’t a wedding present. What happened was that in addition to the nice boxes of dinner service and the several Waterford Glass objects we didn’t ask for and don’t like (and couldn’t return for credit as we did several more), there was a bunch of stuff in the room (henceforth known as The Room) that had come from B’s mother’s house when she downsized a couple of years ago. So along with two bags full of past exam papers (Leaving Cert Chemistry, anyone?) and physics notes and reject photos, we got the stereo that I’d lent to her when I left the country and hers had been on its last legs. When she got a new one and brought the loaner back to my parents’ house, it was put in The Room with everything else of ours. And then it was packed and lifted and driven and loaded and sailed and unloaded and driven and finally unpacked, to my horror and dismay, in our living room. Technically, it works; but it would need a transformer and a plug adaptor and it’s horribly out of date (though it does have a double tape deck and a five-CD changer as well as knobs and buttons and slidey things). If you’d like it, let me know and we’ll work something out. So long as it doesn’t involve shipping it back to Ireland again, because I don’t think I’m up for that.

Even more annoyingly, I opened another box to find my Irish hairdryer – the one I had specifically asked for as a Christmas present last year because I was sick of using a 15-year-old model every time we went home, and that was absolutely definitely meant to stay in Ireland. It will be going straight back with us at Christmas this year, taking up valuable luggage real estate, and I will be very grumpy about it.

Things of import

Oh dear. I very much fear that we’ve just spent a large amount of money to import across the ocean a bunch of crap that will end up in the next school yard sale.

Our shipment arrived in Baltimore on Monday night. On Wednesday morning, I hightailed it up the I-95 to the customs building there, small person in tow, to get somebody to stamp a vital piece of paper (and yay, not charge us any extra money for importing our own belongings) and back in time to squeak into the nursery school car park with seconds to spare to pick up Monkey at 11.30. (I did have a backup plan in place in case we’d hit traffic, but luckily we didn’t. We also managed to avoid driving in the torrential rain of both earlier and later that day, for which I was very thankful.) Poor Mabel was so pissed off by the long car-ride (45 minutes each way, with only a boring trip on my back to a big building with lots of serious people to break it up) that she refused point blank to get into the car the next day until I swore it was only to go as far as the supermarket, and there’d be a bagel in it for her. (Then again, there always is.)

Today, B rented a truck from those sneaky people who pretend it’s really cheap until you discover they’re going to charge you for every mile you drive, went up to Baltimore again, and loaded all the boxes into it, and then out again at the other end. I came back from a busy morning out with two babies (zwei! zwei babien!) to find them all neatly piled in the front room.

So far I’ve unearthed B’s entire back catalogue of cassette tapes, his shot-glass collection, a plastic mixing bowl, a battered sieve, a very cheap bedside lamp with an Irish plug, some nicknacks I never liked, a Casio calculator (solar powered – the cutting edge of 1987 technology), and a picture of me at the Grand Canyon.

In fairness, there’ve also been some lovely pasta bowls I’d totally forgotten about, a huge serving bowl that goes with our Denby dinner service (not yet unpacked), a lot of glasses, and 8 teaspoons that almost match our cutlery. (As God is my witness, I’ll never go without teaspoons again. Cue sunset.) And a lot of paintings (my Dad does watercolours in his spare time). Our walls will also never be bare again.

And B is nerdily pleased to once again have his entire Zoid army on the same landmass.

I’m an agnostic, thank God

All this pope stuff has me thinking about religion. Again.

A strange thing. Even though I’m resigning myself to being agnostic, and plan to emphatically not bring up any offspring in the Catholic church, I have to admit that think I wouldn’t feel fully, properly – oh gack, spiritually – married if I hadn’t had a church wedding.

I know. I’m afraid it makes me a hypocrite of the highest order, but there it is. I can only put it down to my upbringing. Somehow, being married in the eyes of the law wouldn’t have been enough for me – it would lack the extra magic (for want of a better word) that formally acknowledges that being in love is an amazing thing. Rationally, I know that we didn’t get sprinkled with heavenly fairy-dust when the priest said the words, but, I dunno, it just seems to put a seal on Us that a registry office couldn’t. It’s very hard to articulate, but apparently even when I’m not sure I believe in a higher power, I still wanted him/her/it to sign off on my marriage.

What I did in my summer holidays

I was reading back yesterday over my old entries (and for someone who never updates, I almost have a respectable number) and I decided that, in the interests of any unknown readers I may one day have, I should actually provide a little up-to-date information.

So, we got married in July. We did not have a rehearsal dinner (unless you count the four of us – bride, groom, best man, bridesmaid – going for something to eat after the rehearsal; but nothing big and official and paid for by in-laws). I spent the evening before my wedding accompanying my Dad to pick up relations from various points of arrival, and then helping entertain said guests because they all felt they couldn’t go to their allotted B&Bs until the last one, who was on standby from London, finally showed up. Around midnight, I think, Bridesmaid and I pled girly obligations and went to do our fake tan and stuff, and everyone took the hint and sodded off, much to my parents’ relief. I slept lightly and was awake by about 6am, doing pilates on my bed and thinking I should really get some more sleep.

Anyway, the wedding was fab and I won’t go into details. Everything went smoothly and even when the priest decided at the last minute that he’d love to come to dinner, that was easily dealt with at the hotel by the wonderful staff, who treated us like royalty. Our photographer was such a lovely man and such a nice addition to the day that I wouldn’t have cared (much) if all the photos came out duds. (They didn’t, though.) Dinner was yummy, there was lots of dancing, and everyone said I was beautiful. There’s something about your wedding day that allows you to just take compliments that would otherwise feel ridiculous and accept them graciously as your right, just for that day.

It all went far too quickly, but I was perfectly sober all night and thus remember as much as I possibly could. We ended up in the residents’ bar at 3am – just because we could – eating chicken sandwiches and finally taking my shoes off. (My shoes were great too. Pretty, and not at all uncomfortable.)
See, it was all lovely.

Happy couple, rear view

Anyway, after a bit of a honeymoon at home we went back to Pennsylvania, and two weeks later moved to Texas. We never managed to have the big moving-out party we’d been promising to have, but we did get rid of all the furniture and pack everything and manage to leave an empty and somewhat clean house behind us (not counting the basement, which wasn’t part of the deal; and hey, we took away the ping-pong table). We forgot the bike, though, so it’s still sitting down there.

So now we’re Texans. We have the licence plate and the drivers’ licences to prove it. We (nearly) have health insurance. We have a bank account and jobs and a beautiful new sofa and lots of lovely (and not so lovely) wedding presents on both sides of the Atlantic. We have our tickets to go home for Christmas too, when we can bring some of the several Waterford Crystal vases back to the shop and get something we actually like.

And that pretty much brings you up to date.

Do I have to have an opinion?

Opinions? I can do opinions. Really. (Though if you need someone for noncommittedness, or just plain apathy, I’m right here, raring to go.)

Mel Gibson’s Jesus Film (what do you mean, it has a real title?): I don’t want to see it because I don’t like gore. I couldn’t watch the last twenty minutes of Braveheart; I’m not going to pay to sit in a cinema and cover my eyes – and ears – for the whole film. Nor am I going to pay to get it out on video. Perhaps, one day when it turns up on telly I’ll watch a little bit, and switch over very quickly, but that’s it.

Kerry (the politician, not the county): Um, he’s a Democrat, right? And they’re the people who aren’t Bush? Then I’m pro-Kerry.

Rehearsal dinners: I’m not sure. Oops, that’s not an opinion, it’s a prevarication. My brother-in-law-to-be and his wife have offered to organize and host a dinner the night before the wedding, as their present to us. It’s very generous and all, and a lovely idea, but part of me wishes they’d just pick something off the list like everyone else. Several somethings, if they feel the need. Because no matter how much they say that all we’ll have to do is get dressed and show up, they don’t understand that taking my parents and elderly relatives to dinner is no mean feat. They’re basically old people, you know? There are bad legs and sensitive palates and ears that can detect the “thump-thump” of any music more modern than, say, Mozart at any volume above zero decibels. Getting them all to the wedding was as much as I could contemplate. And I was sort of looking forward to a quiet giggly night in with my bridesmaid, playing Boggle and experimenting with make-up, all clean-living and minimal (that means no pizza and wine and Pringles); a swan-song to my girlhood if you like. No doubt it won’t turn out like that either way, though.

The Oscars: Jennifer Garner’s dress was fab. Julia Roberts looks washed out with blonde hair. Diane Keaton looked like Johnny Depp at the last awards. Charlize Theron’s tan was a bad shade; the interesting thing was that her bloke was exactly the same colour. Joan Rivers is clearly on acid.

Today’s opinions brought to you by Mel Gibson, John Kerry, Bridezilla, and Oscar.


Yesterday I forgot to wear my engagement ring. I hate it when I do that. I only realised when I went to bed, when I looked at my finger and realised I didn’t remember taking my ring off that evening. I had to get up and check that it was there in my little trinket box, because any day I forget to wear it I’m convinced that the burglars will have got in and zoned straight in on my little heart-shaped pink china dish thingy, ignoring the much more obvious DVD player (being the only other thing of any value in the house) and leaving everything perfectly tidy and locking the door behind them. It was there, safe and sound. I almost took it out and wore it to bed to make up for its day of neglect, but it’s a bit too pointy to wear in my sleep.

I’ll be nice when I’m married, though, and I won’t need to take that ring off at all. Somehow, on days when I don’t wear my ring I fear that I’m just that bit less engaged. If I never have to take my wedding ring off, I’ll always be completely married.

Possibly it’s not so good to equate the status quite so closely with the ring-wearing. What can I say – I’m a sucker for symbols.

Nothing larger than my knee-high boots

Wedding lists. I mean, what Americans call registries, as opposed to guest lists, and lists of things we have to do to make the wedding happen, and all the other lists in my life.

We have one wedding list in Dublin comprising things we won’t get to use until the far-off mythical day when we move home, and another list online composed of things that aren’t too big or electrical, so that we can move them easily to our next abode and they’ll function in other countries.

It’s a far cry from the day when your mother and father moved into their first home, furnished with mismatched presents and hand-me-down furniture from relatives, planning to stay there and build on what they have where they are from then on. It’s also a far, far cry from the things I’ve read in wedding articles, gems like “list the colour-schemes for all the rooms in your house on your wedding web site so that your guests can pick coordinating presents.” Ahem. Here lies the realm of fantasy. Colour schemes? In rooms? In our house?

 For one thing, our wedding web site (all three pages of it) is going to say nothing about presents. If people are so kind as to want to give us presents, that’s great. If they want to know about lists, they can ask us, or our mothers, or whoever, and they’ll be told where to find them. They are under no obligation to buy us anything, on or off a list. But apart from all that, the notion of us having an actual permanent house, actually owned by us, and containing such a thing as colour schemes, is bizarre and belongs way in the future. I mean, it’s a lovely thought, but it was a bit surreal wandering round Arnotts trying to pick the sort of plates we’d want to eat our pasta from (or our lamb chop and mashed potato, for the more traditionally palated among us) one day when we have this house and this room where we’d be eating – and I suppose we’ll need a table to eat off too, for heaven’s sake. Life is so demanding. Everything we have right now is so temporary – everything larger than a book or my knee-high boots, say – that it’s impossible to contemplate the day when this crockery we’ve chosen will fit into that life and that house and be eaten off by our children. (Gosh. Eek.)